Congratulations, Kentucky teens! You're ready to start driving! Having your license opens many doors and allows a freedom you haven't known yet.
You'll hear this time and time again, but it's important to remember: Driving is a privilege, not a right. Remember how many people are trusting you to drive responsibly.
Having said that, let's go over the steps to take in order to get your Kentucky driver license.
The first step in getting your driver license is to obtain your permit, and you must be at least 16 years old to do so. Go to your local Circuit Court Clerk's office to take the written knowledge and vision tests.
You'll need to bring your birth certificate, Social Security card, and a parent or legal guardian (who must sign the application for you).
If you fail the permit test, you may take it again the next day. If you pass―congratulations! You've earned your permit. You'll now be allowed to drive between 6 a.m. and midnight, as long as you are always accompanied by a driver 21 years old or over.
Note that if you are at least age 16 years old and already hold a permit from another state, you must transfer your permit and be issued a Kentucky permit before you can obtain a KY driver license.
Permits are valid for one year.
After you've had your permit for at least 180 days you can call your Circuit Court Clerk's office to make an appointment for the driving skills test.
You'll need to bring a vehicle that is registered and one you are comfortable driving. Also make sure you have proof of insurance.
If you fail the driving skills test, you may take it again in one week. If you pass―congratulations! You've earned your provisional driver license.
The provisional phase will last until you turn 18 years old, at which point you will have adult driving privileges (with the exception of the Zero Tolerance law).
Your provisional license also means you will be in danger of losing your license if you accumulate more than 6 points for traffic violations. This 6 points rule is stricter than the 12 points rule for adults 18 years old and over.
Graduated Licensing Education Course
Within the first year after obtaining your license, you're required to take a four-hour Graduated Licensing course. These free courses are offered in every county by the Transportation Cabinet; or, you may opt to take one at your high school or through a private driving school that's been approved by the Cabinet. Take your completion certificate to the DDL once you're finished.
It's recommended that you take the test after you've been licensed for a couple months. You'll get more from the class after you have some driving experience.
If you fail to complete the course (and submit paperwork to the DDL) within a year of your license issuance date, your license will be canceled.
Call the DDL at (502) 564-1257 or contact your local high school for more information or to schedule a class.
Also check out the DDL information page for details about the Graduated Licensing Program.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR PARENTS AND TEENS
Canceled Driving Privileges
As long as you're under 18, your driving privileges can be canceled if your parents or legal guardians withdraw responsibility. Your local Circuit Court Clerk's office handles all withdrawn responsibility cases.
If your parents or legal guardians have withdrawn responsibility and/or your driving privilegs have been canceled, you must wait until you're age 18 to obtain your permit and license.
Ready to start driving? Consider these tips:
- Wear your seat belt. Make your passengers buckle up, too. You're the one driving, right?
- Check your gas, seat adjustment, headrest adjustment, and mirror adjustments, and make sure your windshield is clean.
- Get complete directions when driving to an unfamiliar place.
- Obey the speed limits. Speeding along above the limit doesn't make you look cool. It makes you look as if you have a death wish. And if your neighbors see you? That's right―Mom and Dad could take your license.
- Follow the color rules: GREEN means GO (after you've made sure the intersection is clear), YELLOW means SLOW TO A STOP (it's not your signal to speed up and beat the red light) and RED means STOP. Period.
- Use turn signals to indicate your intention to turn or to change lanes. Also, check your rearview mirror to make sure the next lane is clear before you move into it.
- Carry a cell phone, calling card, or some extra change for a payphone with you. You never know when you're going to have car trouble or possibly an accident. It's also a good idea to keep some extra gas money stowed away, too.
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists.
- Maintain your car. Tires, brakes, oil―everything. (Unless you're an auto whiz, this can probably be left up to Dad or Jiffy Lube.)
- Drive according to weather conditions, use your headlights when necessary, and check your exhaust pipe for snow or mud clogs.
- Try to cram too many people into your vehicle. Sure, your best friend and her two cousins may need a ride to the game, but once you run out of available seatbelts, that's it.
- Blast the radio. You might be dying to jam that new CD, but in the meantime you could also miss hearing a siren or a horn that could warn you of possible danger.
- Talk on the phone, put on makeup, fix your hair, or eat while driving. If it's that important, pull off the road.
- NEVER, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, GET INTO A VEHICLE WITH A PERSON WHO HAS BEEN DRINKING OR USING DRUGS, OR ATTEMPT TO DRIVE YOURSELF UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL OR DRUGS. GET ANOTHER SOBER DRIVER OR CALL YOUR PARENTS.
Lastly, don't drive like you own the road, because you don't. Drive like you own the car. And your life.
Be sure to visit our special Driver Education and Drivers Training sections for much more information on driver education, driving tips, and helpful publications and videos.